Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spring Lilacs

There is a giant lilac shrub behind my house.  I've been snipping a few little branches every four days or so, plopping them in this elegant beer glass (found rummaging in the CanadaHouse kitchen cupboards), and then carting them around the house with me.  Everywhere I go.  So that I can get as much enjoyment out of them as possible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Art Show Jury

It's the time of year when Michael and I decide which art works we are going to enter into the hometown July 4th Art Show.  Big monetary prizes.  Like $30 for a blue ribbon.  

Ideally my entries would really shake up the local art scene (mainly watercolors of firetrucks, photographs of deer, that sort of thing).  However, Michael and I are always battling for the number one prize.  His entries are going to be impossible to beat: babies, pregnant Lea on July 4th - they'll eat it up.  I need to at least hold my own.

So... flip on back through the blog and decide which photographs you think are the most awesome.  Then give me a nice, short but solid description in the comments and maybe a why you like it.  Tell your friends to help me out too.  The more the merrier.    

In other news:
Is this not the most terrifying incarnation of Winnie-the-Pooh ever?

This nightmare was brought to you by the Brockway Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, 2008.  You're welcome.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welland Canal

The Saint Catharines Museum, as mentioned previously, is situated along Lock 3 of the Welland Canal.

Everyone needed a way to get their ships through the Great Lakes, and the Welland Canal solves the problem of traveling between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie without having to go over Niagara Falls.  Which is something, as you may imagine, that provides a slight barrier to a variety of ships.  Or barrels.  Whichever.

Another difficulty of taking a ship or whatever from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie or vice-versa is the change in elevation that is required: Lake Erie (and the rest of the Great Lakes) being at a much higher elevation.  Hence the necessity for multiple locks.

There is an observation platform constructed specifically so that visitors can watch as ships pass through the lock.  Supervisor Greg specifically requested that we pause from workshopping so that he, Dorothy, and I could watch the lock in action.

We also had to watch one of the big up-and-down bridges go up-and-down.  Supervisor Greg was like a little boy.  Up-and-down bridge!  So exciting!

We had a good laugh at this warning sign.

"Proud V."  I'm not the only one who picked that up from Hye-Sung.

I'm supposed to send this one home to my mum.

At the time this photo was taken, these were being seriously considered as a purchase.  Moosenoculars.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The St. Catharines Standard: Some TLC for Standard Photo Negatives

Don Fraser, Standard Staff (with slight modifications by me) link here.

The negatives are priceless vignettes of local life from the late 1950s.  One standout shows then Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson grinning at a St. Catharines Legion hall reception.  It's also one of the more damaged of the 600,000 negatives in The Standard collection donated to the St. Catharines Museum in 2007.  The image is crinkly and bubbly, the features of Pearson barely recognizable.

On Thursday, the Canadian Conservation Institute began working on about 200 of the images in need of major restoration.  For the federal government institute, it's the first Ontario site visit doing this kind of work on photo collections.

"This particular batch is an important part of The Standard collection for the museum," said Supervisor Greg, a conservator for the institute. "And it's starting to deteriorate in a significant way.  "It could have been storage conditions, it could have been the manufacturer or a combination of issues. But they're in serious need of work."

Inside a museum basement room, Supervisor Greg and Intern Jessica showed how it's done: a delicate process of separating the negative's silver gelatin emulsion (or image layer) from a deteriorating plastic film base.  After the negative is put in water, a solvent bath dissolves the glue holding the layers together and the gelatin emulsion sloughs off.  That remaining image layer is then scanned, put in a special archival sleeve and stored.  One person can do about three or four images in an hour.  With the help of a $4,000 Niagara Community Foundation grant, private conservator Dorothy McC- will also be helping with the negative treatments.

Museum curator Arden P- described this work as "critical."  "We don't have the financial resources and expertise to be able to do all this in-house," P- said. "These things are dying as we speak and it's so critical to get them treated and scanned.  "It's a long, involved process that can only be done by hand."  The museum and its volunteers have already completed two years of what is anticipated to be a 25-year project of preserving and archiving The Standard's photo collection.

And the accompanying photograph.  This was really nerve-wracking: photographer and reporter and me doing this (which is, like all things, way more difficult that it sounds).  And, to top it off, the negative reacted totally differently than the one Supervisor Greg did the day before.  And in a totally unexpected way too.  But it was okay.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lake Ontario Workshop Holiday Bonanza

So the ThinkTank has sent Supervisor Greg and I off to Saint Catharines Museum (in Saint Catharines, Ontario) to do a several day workshop with the museum staff about negatives.

Apart from all of the preparation we did back in Ottawa and the actual workshop-giving here in Saint Catharines, its like a mini-holiday - Lake Ontario is fab, the days are sunny, and we got ice cream cones today!  Weee!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ikea Food

Yesterday Flatmate Andrea wanted to go to Ikea and I was like, "I'll drive.  We'll go to Ikea and then to the grocery."  Which was fine, excepting that we didn't leave until way later in the day than usual (and than I wanted to).  I didn't want anything there (Ikea), but I did want to go to the grocery.  I never want to go to Ikea.

Flatmate Andrea originally didn't know I would be so easy to convince, Ikea-trip-wise.  She first attempted to tempt me into going.

Flatmate Andrea: Oooo!  Ikea!  And we can get some hot dogs there!

Me: NO.

Flatmate Andrea: Yes!  Ikea hot dogs!  Fifty-cents each!  Why not?

Me: NO.  I don't eat boiled hot dogs.  I only eat hot dogs if they are cooked over a fire.

She was really confused about my refusal to entertain the idea of eating an Ikea hot dog.  (I did not take this picture.  Clearly, as I did not even touch an Ikea hot dog).  

I did wonder if they too were made from glue and sawdust and if they had some bizarre Nordic name like 'DOGGEN' or 'HOTJA' - complete with umlauts and other comically exotic Nordic vowel modifiers.  All the Ikea food comes with some sort of dark blue wrapping labeled 'IKEA FOOD' in that same terrible faux-pine veneer equivalent of typography.  

And to top it off, Ikea was full of parents and children, running around, all of them eating 50-cent Ikea hot dogs, screaming and touching everything and walking very slowly through the maze that is Ikea.  So I couldn't even get out of there as fast as I wanted to.  It was terrible.